Bulletin vans go the extra mile

By John Toth

The Bulletin


In the Bulletin distribution fleet are three vans, the most famous being the green van, which has over the years become legendary in my columns.


The other two are the gold van, the workhorse of the fleet, and the baby, the blue van.


The blue van has received very little attention in print, but recent occurrences have made it take the spotlight - because it fixed itself.


This is a first, although the list of valiant deeds by the other two vans is long. The vans have made it back home or to the repair shop after breaking. I appreciate that because it’s a lot simpler than getting a tow truck to come out.


The green van also got me out of a ticket once by starting to smoke from the engine compartment as the officer was telling me that I did not signal a left turn - which I did.


I was about to explain to him that the signaling was a little brief, since I decided to make the turn at the last minute, but I did signal. Before we could continue this conversation, the green van started smoking, and he let me go with just a verbal warning.


Then he put quite a distance between himself and the van. That was understandable. I knew what the problem was, and got it fixed, but I did appreciate the green van watching out for me like that.


The blue van has not done anything like this, but it recently got some well-deserved attention, after the engine light popped up to let me know that there is a code waiting for me.


I ran a scan and located the code. All by itself, it’s gibberish. I still had to look up what it meant. Often, a code can mean several different things, but in this case it was just one. I made an appointment to get it fixed.


After the repairs were done, I noticed that the cruise control was not working. It worked before I took it in, so I called the shop, and with a tone in my voice that was not a least bit accusatory, I asked them what happened.


They swore that they didn’t touch anything that could be related to the cruise control problem. I believed them, but that still didn’t solve my problem.


I took it to the dealer after reading on Google that the problem may be caused by a part that is on universal recall, meaning that it never runs out, no matter how old the van is. That’s the kind of recall I like, since the van is no spring chicken anymore.


The next day I called the dealer to get a progress report. They very nicely told me that they can’t fix the problem because the parts needed were no longer manufactured. They also could not get it from third-party sources.


I should have taken the van to a shop that has a direct line to junk yards for parts. That was my next stop. I told the dealership that I’d be coming by to pick up my still-ailing van. This was a mission now, not just a car repair.


I drove home from the dealer, and just for the fun of it, turned on the cruise control. I felt a slight jolt as it engaged. It worked again.


I turned it off and turned it back on. It engaged again.


The car fixed itself, probably because it heard me talk about taking it to a shop with a direct line to junkyards. I wasn’t going to dump the car in a junkyard. The blue van misunderstood.


It reminded me of the times I went to the dentist and told him the tooth didn’t hurt anymore. But it didn’t fix itself. The van did - another first for the Bulletin fleet of loyal delivery vehicles.